#127. Testing My Sanity
I started working a few months ago as a Project Manager. It’s great because the project is one I actually like and comes with a flexible schedule as I am working out of my home. Having only held a couple of jobs in actual offices, I can say with complete confidence that I would rather fucken kill myself then work in a cubicle or ‘open concept’ and be forced to pretend that I am both busy and happy to be there. I much prefer freelance working from home where I can take intermittent breaks when needed without anyone policing me. If my work is getting done, and done well, then who cares when and how I do it?
As I was working on my computer in my living room yesterday, my dog was barking and scratching at something in my son’s room. I ignored Fluffy as long as I could before going to investigate the reason for his insistent cries for my attention. Fluffy was trying to get under a chest in my son’s closet where I suspected a tennis ball was located. I lay on the ground to awkwardly peer under the chest when I found what the dog was barking at.
Some empty tiny bags with weed remnants, a pipe and some lighters were hidden. Thanks to our dog The NARC, I vividly saw exactly what my son has been up to. (I now think the dog is a genius too. I’m the only simple-minded one in this apartment.) Thank God the dog brought this to my attention. He should get a job at the airport…
I thought I was ok with my teenager smoking pot but seeing the hidden drug paraphernalia right in front of me, I realized that I am so not down with it. What was I crazy? I know all too well that drugs and alcohol are fun, until they aren’t and by then it’s too late. No one starts drinking with the intent of one day vomiting and urinating on themselves in an alley. When I started smoking pot I don’t recall ever thinking, “Geez, I hope this leads to heavy drug use so I can ruin my life”. It’s a dangerous road to travel. Both booze and drugs were never my friends. I wasted a lot of time, did a lot of stupid shit and missed out on many opportunities due to all that ‘fun’.
Looking at my son’s drug accoutrement, I realized that I had to go hardcore and be the parent that my son obviously needs. I can be his friend when he’s older, but for now I need to create consistent rules and boundaries. No more allowance or money for lunch. I decided to cut off his money supply and implement a list of non-negotiable expectations if he is to continue residing in my home. He will now have to clean up after himself, walk the dog and if he wants money, he can get a job. No more single mother guilt motivating my decisions. Someone needs to raise this kid and lead by example. Looks like I’m it. Booze and drugs will no longer be tolerated. Period. I won’t help him go down the dark path that I did. It’s too damn hard to get out and many never do.
Continuing on a quest to better myself, I decided to undergo a thorough psychological assessment. Look, I have come a long way but there’s the last and scariest frontier to explore. I have been wondering what the root of my past substance abuse actually is. I don’t believe that I had or have a ‘disease’, as I don’t subscribe to the hypothesis that substance abuse is a disease at all. It is merely a symptom of another problem.
I used substances to alter my mood when I was feeling nervous, bored, discomfort, anger, pain or fear which unfortunately used to be rather often especially through my hideous marriage and divorce. I couldn’t stand the agony of being in my own skin in a world that seemed so cruel. Substances became my coping mechanisms as I simply didn’t know how else I could stand my intense emotions. I didn’t want to live but I didn’t want to die either so being intoxicated seemed like the only in-between option available. Luckily, a few years ago I chose life and developed alternative healthy habits and coping mechanisms to handle stress that do not include self medicating.
I feel physically healthy and have no desire to waste any time being hungover. It’s been months since I have consumed any alcohol or even smoked cigarettes so It’s the perfect time to gauge where my state of mind is truly at. I am wondering why I seem to have Tourette’s. Why can’t I quiet the spinning thoughts in my mind? Why do I always feel a sense of urgency and get bored so damn quickly? What compelled me to hastily marry my ex??? It’s time to get some real answers especially since my son really needs me to be the best mother that I can be. To do that, I have to be the best me that I can. These teen years are going to test my patience and sanity so I better get myself prepared.
My therapist sent me to an ADHD clinic that screens for every mood and personality disorder. I didn’t know much about ADHD, but when I read about it, I saw myself. It was like a weight was lifted and a light went on! No wonder the pot helped me focus in high school. Was ADHD the root of my life challenges? Is that it? I was, and remain for that matter, scared as to what the assessment may uncover. Do I really have the balls to confront my reality whatever it may be? I don’t think so but I’m doing it anyway.
The assessment consists of three visits. I was nervous for the first visit. What if It’s not ADHD and I’m seriously disturbed? I thought about all of the questions that would be asked of me so I was prepared with a thorough inventory of my life. This was my chance to figure my shit out once and for all so I didn’t want to leave anything out. I had to go all in and be as honest as humanly possible.
Much to my surprise, the first visit wasn’t a sit down talking session with a specialist at all. A Psychologist took me into a room and a led me though a battery of psychological tests. He began by giving me a bunch of different coloured blocks. I was then shown pictures with various colour configurations and expected to assemble the blocks to mirror the designs within a specific time limit. I was doing great at first but then I was getting frustrated when I couldn’t get the blocks to mirror the more challenging images. I was panicking and the ever present voice was racing in my mind. ‘Oh my God. This is some kind of IQ test and I’m gonna fail! What if I’m slow? Like below average. Oh my God. I’m the Dunce of the Universe. This is terrible. Make the blocks look like the pictures Goddamnit! What’s wrong with me? A child could do this!’ Things weren’t going well.
Luckily we moved onto some word ‘games’. The Psychologist would say two different words and I would have to describe how they are similar, again within a time limit. The first words I was given were “Blue and Green”. ‘OK. I got this.’ I thought to myself.
“Blue and Green are both hues found in nature.” I stated with confidence. The Psychologist looked a bit bewildered and said, “Try simpler answers. For example Blue and Green are both COLOURS.”
‘Ah fuck! Colours! Of course! Hues found in nature? What the hell is wrong with me? Who says that?!?’ I couldn’t believe that I missed something so obvious. I tried to keep it simple for the remainder of this phase and not waste time on my thoughts. It wasn’t easy. For whatever reason, it was becoming abundantly clear as the word association exercises continued that I tend to skip over the obvious beginning chain of thoughts and delve into the more developed details further into the reflective process. The stress of being judged by both the Psychologist and myself made me break into a sweat like Albert Brooks in ‘Broadcast News’. Why was I volunteering for this again???
The Psychologist then asked me to define a list of words for the next phase of questions which was right up my alley. I thought. ‘Keep it succinct. Stay focused.’ I commanded myself. I was doing ok until the word “Alligator”. ‘Ok Hayl, define Alligator. You can do it. It’s a reptile. Shit…is it a reptile? Fuck. I don’t remember if it’s a reptile or not…don’t say reptile out loud…that could be wrong…move onto another thought…NOW!!!’ My mind panicked when grappling with the reptile question. The pressure of testing my intelligence and sanity was getting to me. But this was not the time to crack!
“An Alligator is a swamp dwelling creature.” I spontaneously blurted. ‘Great answer! Lucid and concise. Good for me. Thatta girl!’ I congratulated myself. My confidence returned and I was excited with my answer! “I believe they are one of a very few species still in existence from the dinosaur era.” I quickly added. ‘Oh oh...Where am I going with this…I don’t know what I’m are saying!’ My thoughts spun uncontrollably. “Alligators are found concentrated in Florida and Alabama.” I was still talking! WHY? ‘Stop talking!!! For the love of all that’s good. STOP TALKING!!!’ I begged myself.
Alabama? Where did Alabama come from? What the hell do I know from Alabama? Then again, what do I know from Alligators? A lot more than Alabama… Where did all that nonsense come from??? Dinosaur era? Does Alabama even have Alligators?
Jesus Christ. If my first assessment session is any indication, not only am I low on the IQ scale, I clearly have some serious brain problems. Good thing I’m getting assessed! No wonder I drank and did drugs! With all this craziness going on in my head, I’d be insane not to! I’ll be lucky to only have ADHD!
My last session for the assessment is a couple of weeks from now. I really hope they don’t lock me up at the end of this. I just wanna live the best life I can and be a good mom. I have to calm down and stop replaying every detail of this process. Isn’t it better to know what you’re dealing with so you can address it?
I’m a good person. I’m a great mom. I may need some psychological assistance but who doesn’t if they’re really honest with themselves. I’m moving in the right direction and living a healthy life. This assessment is, in my mind, a tool to help me ensure that I stay on course. I just want to live up to my true potential which I know that I have yet to do. That’s all. I can’t be that crazy to have that as my goal.